A who's-who list of billionaires are lined up to woo Chelsea as the deadline for a buyer to snap up the club looms, after embattled owner Roman Abramovich was hit with sanctions.
Property rich-listers and heavyweight Wall Street consortiums are among the business titans confirmed to have thrown in bids in the battle to buy the Blues.
Parties interested in buying Chelsea have until 9pm on Friday evening (March 18) to place their final bids to purchase the club.
Mr Abramovich, 55, has been hit by sanctions targeting oligarchs in the UK in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The billionaire put up the club for sale just days before sanctions sent shockwaves through Stamford Bridge, as tickets and merchandise sales and player transfers were banned.
Due to those sanctions, the Government will consider whether any bids for Chelsea emerge suitable enough to permit a new ownership licence to be issued.
Mr Abramovich will not be permitted to profit from any sale.
He bought the club in 2003 in a deal reported to be worth £140 million and bankrolled the purchase of some of football's most expensive players as he steered the club to 19 major trophies.
But the Russian-Israeli billionaire's reign will soon be over, after he was targeted by sanctions due to his alleged links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The profits from the sale of the club could go to a charitable organisation or into a frozen account, if a bid is signed off by parties including the Premier League and UK Government.
Chelsea, which has won two Champions League titles, as well as the Club World Cup title earlier this year, is on edge as the sanctions squeeze match earnings and its travel expense pool.
So who is in the running to Chelsea? Mr Abramovich had already received several serious bids for Chelsea just days into the sale process, which is being conducted by New York merchant bank the Raine Group.
Here is a full list of the runners and riders potentially in contention to buy the club so far.
Billionaire David Candy is a major luxury property developer and red carpet regular, along with his star wife, Holly Valance.
He has stepped up his courtship with the addition of Stamford Bridge favourite Gianlucci Vialli, making the ex-Italy striker’s company Tifosy capital and investment firm the lead advisors to the bid.A spokesperson for Candy confirmed his impending bid for Chelsea.
“Nick Candy is actively exploring a number of options for a potential bid for Chelsea Football Club,” said Candy’s spokesperson.
“Any bid would be made in conjunction with another party, or consortium, and we have serious interest from several international partners.
“Mr Candy has a huge affinity with Chelsea. His father was asked to play for the club and he has been watching matches at Stamford Bridge since the age of four.
“The club deserves a world-class stadium and infrastructure and Mr Candy’s unique expertise and background in real estate would be a hugely valuable asset to delivering this vision.”
Sir Martin Broughton
Former British Airways chairman Sir Martin Broughton has been joined by Lord Sebastian Coe in his consortium bid to buy the club, as he lines up sporting and Wall Street heavyweights to bolster his offer.
London 2012 Olympics powerhouse and World Athletics president Lord Coe added major gravitas to Broughton’s bid to buy the Stamford Bridge club.
Lord Coe would take a seat on Chelsea’s board should Sir Martin be successful in his candidacy to buy the club, the PA news agency understands.
“I am certain that Sir Martin is the right man to lead Chelsea Football Club into its next chapter,” said Lord Coe.
“He has an exceptional track record in British business, as well as unrivalled experience in shepherding Liverpool out of a very difficult situation.
“He has the vision, acumen and financial backing to ensure our club’s future success, keeping Chelsea Football Club at the top of European football and challenging for trophies.
“But most importantly, like me, he is a lifelong Chelsea supporter and Shed End season-ticket holder. I know that this bid is for the millions of Chelsea fans around the world. We love our club and will always put the fans first.”
Sir Martin ran British American Tobacco before chairing British Airways.
The high-profile British business figure now chairs private investment firm Sports Investment Partners.
Sir Martin helped steer Liverpool to the Reds’ current period of prosperity when he took the chairmanship on a short-term basis in 2010.
“I am absolutely delighted to welcome Lord Coe to our bid. His reputation speaks for itself, and he will bring phenomenal insight, leadership, and sporting knowledge to Chelsea Football Club,” Sir Martin said.
The Ricketts family
Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts have also confirmed their candidacy.
The Ricketts confirmed they would submit their bid for Chelsea on Friday, bringing US hedge fund chief Ken Griffin on board in a show of strength.
The Ricketts family’s experience of redeveloping Wrigley Field but retaining its neighbourhood charm, as well as running a major sports franchise, could hand the Cubs owners an edge in the increasing length of Chelsea suitors.
“The Ricketts Family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, can confirm they will be leading an investment group that will make a formal bid for Chelsea Football Club this Friday,” a spokesman for the Ricketts family said.
“As long-time operators of an iconic professional sports team, the Ricketts Family and their partners understand the importance of investing for success on the pitch, while respecting the traditions of the club, the fans and the community.
“We look forward to sharing further details of our plans in due course.”
Hansjorg Wyss and Todd Boehly
The 86-year-old Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and LA Dodgers part owner Todd Boehly have teamed up to form a consortium.
Mr Boehly, who also studied at the London School of Economics, is part-owner of baseball team the Los Angeles Dodgers as well as the women’s basketball outfit the Los Angeles Sparks and owns a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers.
He also has financial interests in areas such as technology, life insurance and real estate and he is currently the interim chief executive of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
The American businessman had already launched an unsuccessful bid to purchase Chelsea, offering a reported $3 billion (USD) to Abramovich in 2019 – an offer that was rejected.
He has since confirmed he has teamed up with Mr Boehly.
Mr Wyss earlier this month told local newspaper Blick that he – and others – had “received an offer…to buy Chelsea from Abramovich,” adding “Abramovich is currently asking far too much”.
Mr Wyss, now based in the US, is the founder of medical device manufacturing giant Synthes and is a keen environmentalist.
The Turkish businessman earlier revealed his candidacy for purchasing Chelsea, with several public proclamations.
The construction, energy and technology magnate Bayrak confirmed his bid through his company,
“We can definitely confirm our bid for Chelsea,” AB Group Holding general manager Seda Bayrak said.
“We have forwarded our offer regarding this.”
The Pakistani businessman has already dipped his toe into the world of sport as he is the owner of Peshawar Zalmi, a cricket franchise in the the Pakistan Super League.
Afridi has also sponsored several cricket tournaments in Pakistan through a number of his business ventures.
The 36-year-old owns home electronics company Haier Pakistan as well as MG Motors Pakistan.
Mr Afridi has been continuing to show interest in recent weeks, according to Pakistan media.
However his bid status remained unclear on Friday.
Al-Waleed bin Talal
The 66-year-old Saudi Arabian billionaire is the founder and majority owner of the Kingdom Holding Company.
While he has also reportedly expressed interest in buying Chelsea in recent weeks, his current bid status was unclear on Friday,
(Above: Al-Waleed bin Talal with Bill Gates)
He also holds shares in Citigroup and 21st Century Fox, while his holding company invests in tourism, entertainment, retail and real estate – among other interests – but as yet he has not been involved with a sports team.
One of Britain's wealthiest people has reported ruled himself out of the running to buy Chelsea.
A co-founder of chemicals company Ineos, Sir Jim Ratcliffe has a keen interest in sport and was heavily speculated to be eyeing a bid.
The billionaire owner of Ligue 1 side Lille and Swiss Super League club FC Lausanne-Sport, Sir Jim was linked with a move to add Chelsea to his football portfolio last year.
He purchased Team Sky and their successful cycling team in 2019, formed a sailing team to compete at the Americas Cup and last year Ineos became a principal partner and third-equal shareholder in the Mercedes Formula One team.
However a spokesperson for Sir Jim earlier this month told reporters he would not be making an offer for Chelsea.